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Improv:21 - An Informance with Bob Ostertag


Published May 27, 2007


As part of the Improv:21 series sponsored by ROVA:Arts, Derk Richardson interviews composer, performer, author, and musical theoretician Bob Ostertag, before a live audience at the San Francisco Museum of Performance & Design Performing Arts Library, on May 27, 2007. Ostertag concentrates his remarks on the evolution of electronic music, what constitutes a performance, and the inherent tension between body and machine. He begins by referencing the essays of electronic music pioneers Edgar Varèse and Karlhienz Stockhausen who both predicted the future preeminence of electronic music because it would free the composer from the interpretation of their creations by third parties. Ostertag suggests that a problem not foreseen by those early advocates was the difficulty in devising a truly electronic instrument, one that performers would be able to practice playing for years on end, eventually becoming virtuosic. According to Ostertag the very nature of electronic music is based on automated processes and electric circuits that by definition can not be touched directly, but only adjusted by altering various parameters, typically using a modified keyboard or other traditional acoustic instrument based interfaces. Ostertag relates his various experiences trying alternative controllers and his eventual acceptance that this is a problem not likely to be solved any time soon. He also comments on the growing popularity of electronic dance music with its machine perfect rhythms, and the prevalence of “laptop concerts,” both of which raise questions about what makes up a performance and the role of improvisation in electronic music. The depth and range of Ostertag’s analysis, as well as his open and warm personality, make this a rewarding program for anyone with an interest in the influence technology has had on modern music and society at large.

(This is Rova:Arts un-edited camera footage.)


Run time 103 min
Producer ROVA:Arts
Audio/Visual sound, color
Language English
Contact Information For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: <a href="http://radiom.org">radiOM.org</a>

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